Scott Aukerman: Im fascinated by people who only want granite countertops. Photograph: Kyle Christy/NBC
The result is a spot-on parody of those kinds of shows, especially the status-obsessed type A brokers. The highly strung clients are played by guest stars who stop by for an episode. Adam Scott plays a Johnny Depp-like actor in the premiere episode who is so blotto that he forgets that he even listed his house in the first place.
Bajillion Dollar Properties is one of the first original shows on Seeso, an NBC-owned streaming service for comedy (think of Netflix if it didnt have all of those pesky Romantic Dramas Based on Books Featuring Strong Male Leads) and a new episode debuts each Thursday. The network is so bullish on the show, it ordered two seasons the second one premiering later this year. The reality parody genre has been great for startup streaming services. When Yahoo was getting in the TV business, they featured two seasons of Burning Love, a send-up of The Bachelor. Hulu has its Hotwives franchise (with installments in both Orlando and Las Vegas), which is a pitch perfect parody of the Real Housewives.
So, just what is the appeal of these kinds of shows that also make for great comedy? Im always fascinated to see whats important to people, Aukerman says. Like when someone has bad taste and they only want a certain feature in the house like they only want granite countertops or else it isnt a classy place and youre screaming at the thing saying, No one has granite any more!
While Bajillion Dollar Properties focuses on the real estate porn and the big-ticket homes that make these programs so attractive, Aukerman says theyre not as gorgeous once you get inside. When we started filming in some of these homes, you find out how not classy they really are. Some of them are kinda shitty, he says. They look beautiful on camera, but to a home, we would go in and look around and everyone would say, I wouldnt live here.
Some of these reality shows seem to be heavily plotting the agents interactions with their clients, something that didnt happen on this improv-heavy set. Its been really interesting because it is less scripted [than those reality shows] in the sense of like well throw out just kind of a situation or a character and then these guys kind of take it in whatever direction they want to take it in, Aukerman says.
Vilaysack and Aukerman, who had great success with Between Two Ferns on Funny or Die, originally thought of doing the show as webisodes that were about six minutes long. However, they brought on Reno 911 stars and creators Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant as executive producers. They saw a format similar to their cop show parody, which features a core cast of crazy characters interacting with even odder guests. They then decided to go for full 30-minute episodes.
Aukerman says the strange thing is the filming eventually took on tactics that are more common for reality TV shows than for scripted comedies. They shot the sections with the clients separate from the scenes where just the agents were interacting and stitched everything together later, sometimes using talking head interviews with the cast to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. That way they could fine-tune and massage the storylines as they were going.
The lack of restraints on the internet is appealing to Aukerman, who knows how hard it can be to make his other improv show Comedy Bang Bang fit exactly into a certain length and have to bleep out all the curse words. Hes also working on another show with Seeso called Take My Wife based on the lives of comedians and newlyweds Carmen Esposito and Rhea Butcher that debuted last month at South by Southwest.
As far as working with his wife, Aukerman has found it very rewarding. Im always of the opinion that the best relationships are ones where both people are fulfilled, he says. This is Kulaps first television show and shes had such a great experience with it. We only had one fight where I was sleeping on the couch, so thats great.
New episodes of Bajillion Dollar Properties stream on Seeso every Thursday